The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
O thou who are athirst for the water of Life! This manifest Book is the fountainhead of the Water of Life eternal. Drink so much as thou art able from the fountain of the living water. – Abdu’l-Baha, from the frontispiece to Ali-Kuli-Khan’s 1913 translation of Baha’u’llah’s The Book of Certitude.
Now, in this series of essays on Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of the True Seeker, we come to the section that defines the inmost essence of spiritual search, and names the conditions that slake the thirst of those who want to drink the water of life.
In this portion of his beloved tablet, Baha’u’llah lists ten desirable and important spiritual characteristics of the true seeker, calls them “essential conditions,” and encourages us to adopt “the attributes of the exalted:”
1. He should be content with little, and be freed from all inordinate desire.
2. He should treasure the companionship of those that have renounced the world, and regard avoidance of boastful and worldly people a precious benefit.
3. At the dawn of every day he should commune with God, and with all his soul persevere in the quest of his Beloved.
4. He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention, and, with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him.
5. He should succour the dispossessed, and never withhold his favour from the destitute.
6. He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to him who is endowed with the power of utterance.
7. He should not hesitate to offer up his life for his Beloved, nor allow the censure of the people to turn him away from the Truth.
8. He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfil.
9. With all his heart should the seeker avoid fellowship with evil doers, and pray for the remission of their sins.
10. He should forgive the sinful, and never despise his low estate, for none knoweth what his own end shall be. How often hath a sinner, at the hour of death, attained to the essence of faith, and, quaffing the immortal draught, hath taken his flight unto the celestial Concourse. And how often hath a devout believer, at the hour of his soul’s ascension, been so changed as to fall into the nethermost fire.
Our purpose in revealing these convincing and weighty utterances is to impress upon the seeker that he should regard all else beside God as transient, and count all things save Him, Who is the Object of all adoration, as utter nothingness.
These are among the attributes of the exalted, and constitute the hall-mark of the spiritually-minded. They have already been mentioned in connection with the requirements of the wayfarers that tread the Path of Positive Knowledge. When the detached wayfarer and sincere seeker hath fulfilled these essential conditions, then and only then can he be called a true seeker. Whensoever he hath fulfilled the conditions implied in the verse: “Whoso maketh efforts for Us,” (Qur’an 29:69) he shall enjoy the blessing conferred by the words: “In Our ways shall We assuredly guide him.” (Ibid.) – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, pp. 193-195.
Do you see yourself as a wayfarer who treads “the path of positive knowledge?” Many think of themselves that way, but few commit to the actual struggle, the real transformative work necessary to achieve such a high calling. The sincere spiritual seeker, Baha’u’llah says in this portion of the tablet, must earn that station, by acting in ways that consistently focus on approaching the Eternal, “the object of all adoration.”
Spiritual search, this powerful passage from the Tablet of the True Seeker tells us, means much more than simple curiosity or the mere acquisition of intellectual learning—it means committing to develop a permanent, enlightened way of being that exemplifies kindness, detachment, forgiveness, humility and love. It means exemplifying the divine attributes. It means transcending our lower animal nature and fully inhabiting our noble higher nature:
In man there are two natures; his spiritual or higher nature and his material or lower nature. In one he approaches God, in the other he lives for the world alone. Signs of both these natures are to be found in men. In his material aspect he expresses untruth, cruelty and injustice; all these are the outcome of his lower nature. The attributes of his Divine nature are shown forth in love, mercy, kindness, truth and justice, one and all being expressions of his higher nature. Every good habit, every noble quality belongs to man’s spiritual nature, whereas all his imperfections and sinful actions are born of his material nature. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 61.
The true seeker tries to aspire, always, to that higher nature.
Next: Penetrating the Hidden Mysteries of the Soul